The memo came like most of the urgings that cross my path these days, via e-mail.

Ever wonder what we used to do before it was possible to simply sit at your desk and broadcast 120 copies of drivel around your place of work?

Quit wondering. We just all stood around the bulletin board and fought back the near uncontrollable urge to laugh out loud.

Anyway, the memo came in my daily flood of e-mails, more than 90 percent of which I have not and never will read.

I still get regular reminders about all the reminders I forgot in the daily influx of e-trash as I have begun calling it.

I love those electronic bits of nuisance that start out ''In regards my earlier e-mail, there has been another update ...''

Chances are I didn't bother reading the first before I relegated it to that cartoonish looking trash can that are on everybody’s monitors. And, from the way it starts out, I'm just certain I'm not going to finish reading this one.

So, like I was saying, the e-mail arrived a good week before I got around to reading it. I'd have read it earlier, but I don't respond well to those ''General House-cleaning'' tags at the tops of those things.

The news was that we would all be the proud recipients of ''cleaning equipment'' and ''extra trash receptacles'' throughout the newsroom.

Just what I needed, another opportunity to clean my ''work station,'' as our desks have taken to being called in the electronic age.

Now, I never, ever trusted somebody with a clean desk. I never met a truly creative individual, especially in this business, who had such a desk. Hell, I never knew anybody in this business who was worth the ink it took to print them who could find the top of their desk.

Ever notice how a clean desk, especially at a newspaper, always makes you think that a) the occupant is on vacation, b) the occupant is deathly ill (although that doesn't make any sense because why'd he clean his desk in anticipation of getting sick) or c) somebody just got the ax.

Actually I never trusted anything -- space, house, car, backyard and/or bathroom -- that was clean. There is something about clean that just screams ''ANAL RETENTIVE'' to me, and a little bit lazy.

If you've got time to clean your ''work station'' you have entirely too much time on your hands. And those immediately above you in the food chain need to find something else worthwhile to accomplish.

Besides, if I ever cleaned my desk around this place I could never find anything. Oh I'd be able to get my hands on the stuff that came my way in say the last two days. But as far as anything I really need to function in this position, things that really mean something, forget it.

Like all the e-trash that’s clogging up my computer files, the stuff on the top layers of my desk don't mean squat.

Usually, these semiannual urgings to police up the work area are precursors to visits by some sort of dignitary -- some fourth cousin of a major stockholder in town for a family reunion.

The really weird ones are the cleanups that precede a visiting dignitary from another newspaper.

Now anybody who knows anything about this business, as I would assume somebody visiting the newsroom from another newsroom, knows that newsroom desks are messy. Hell, they’re downright regular disaster areas.

If I were one of those visiting dignitaries and I walked into a ''Spick 'n Span'' (a cleaning reference that won't mean much to those under the age of 45) newsroom, I immediately assume that the place was occupied by a bunch of angry journalists, whose ire was directed my way for being the cause of two weeks of housekeeping drills.

Well, once we finally got around to spiffing up the newsroom, it happened. ''Has anybody seen the latest picture of my grandson?'' I shout across the room.

''Look, nobody leaves this building until I find that picture!''

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online October 24, 2001

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